Well, the abbreviations( FOMO & JOMO) and the terminology ( Digital Detox), were conceived, because the latent need ( to spare the humankind of this ‘yet another’ rampant menace) necessitated an expression ( in the form of language).
Let me get them out of the way first( like literally)
‘FOMO’ ( Fear Of Missing Out ) – anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on social media.
‘JOMO’ (Joy Of Missing Out ) – is an emotionally intelligent antidote to FOMO, which means being present & content – enjoying the doing, in the here and now, and not compare with other’s lives on social media or otherwise.
‘Digital Detox’ is an ‘expression of resistance’ in the 21st century. It entails absolute detoxification from the digital( or the virtual) world – positively embracing the offline( or the real )world with absolute mindfulness (which seems to have become a new luxury in the modern times). It is also considered as a tool for ‘self-optimization’
153 days ( 5 months ) of an out-and-out shutdown. Really?
When I look back in retrospect, though it doesn’t seem impossible, it does feel surreal for sure. It’s unbelievable, especially for someone like me – who started blogging and Instagramming just a year back. I should rather have been all out there on social media, always and more, to grab maximum eyeballs( ‘other’s’ share of attention – when they have really nothing much important do – they might merely be stuck in traffic or sitting on the commode – just browsing, giving my posts a passing like 🙂 ), playing the most repugnant disconcerting game of follow- unfollow, and consequently equating my self-worth to validations earned through likes, shares, and comments.
Ah, that sounds just so exhausting and so unworthy of anyone’s attention, isn’t it?
Should I have striven harder against how i really felt about the whole process?
Maybe, yes ( to keep up with the competitive world that has always encouraged us to push harder, try harder, and burn completely out, unless it’s too late )
Or, maybe not.
Maybe, just taking the other path( the road not-so-less taken in today’s context ) was the need of that hour – the need for indispensable nourishment for my blemished and famished, mind and soul that relentlessly grappled to survive the wrath that my so-called modern-day life entailed. It craved to rewire, reconnect, rejuvenate – to live in an authentic way and thereby, Stay Completely Off The Grid
Whether we like it or not, life happens while we are busy staring at our smartphones,
scrolling up and down, and its rather easy to miss out on all these countless but precious moments,
which melt our hearts today and would even decades later.
Did I know, it was coming?
The answer is a big resounding ” No’. Because, if there is anything at all, like a ‘ Digital Detox Prompt ‘, it has to be one’s own need to unplug, which in my case I didn’t quite sense it until I was caught completely off the guard.
Even a few hours of digital detox ( though, the term never made sense to me being a full-time mom that put me on an unintentional detox mode, anyway:)) was never a thing for me, since I started (at the beginning of 2018), let alone spending days, doing something that could aid in complete abstinence from social media and not the mobile device as yet because it literally means the world to me- I read books on kindle app – It helps me save paper, keep my physical space clutter-free ( I have had a mini-library in the past which housed all kinds of books I never found time to read and had to be given away when I left India, because I was also quite done shamelessly looking at them eating dust. )
But then, it did happen and it happened quite organically, in fact impulsively. The feeling that urged me to get off, was very oddly elevating.
One fine day, I just lost the delirious impulse to be out there real-time or otherwise. And I knew that it’s not going to go away any time soon. I felt very taken and possessed by the need to let go of everything that constituted my ‘ Me Time’ until then.
Did I understand, what conspired?
Though I have coaxed myself sufficiently enough to attribute this change to something more profound, yet I haven’t been able to put a finger on what really triggered it.
Was it a sea of change (in my life, otherwise) that I was going through, that I couldn’t cope up with, positively enough, to share it with the world?
Was it the apprehension of looking past our adventure-filled nomadic life to return back to a routined settled life? Ah this one still hurts :):) ( pun intended)
Was it trying to belong to a new city, house, life, and people, cutting off all the existing energy chords with everything that meant life ( we had left behind us, in the city of Konstanz)?
Also Read: Apartment Hotel: Home away from home
Or was it a constant feeling of indefinite lack, an internal void that could no longer be filled by the external world of social media, however, it needed to be paid immediate attention to?
Now in retrospect, I strongly feel this inexplicable ‘feeling of emptiness‘ was the biggest compelling force that made me look within – travel deeper inside. ( This would also probably explain, why my blog would slowly become about traveling inside as much as on the outside in the days to come, as I would continue to share my experiences from both the worlds of my existence.)
Whatever it may be, I am more than just delighted, that it happened- It arrived when it was time and left when it felt right – nourishing my body, mind, and soul – with experiences that have become a part of me now.
And I can’t obviously ignore the urge to share with you, all that I have gathered from this phase which isn’t unattainable, if well-intentioned.
After all, self-care is the greatest care, and self-love is the greatest love.
So, here is what I did, when I wasn’t Instagramming between mid-July’19 to mid-Dec’19
1) Savored Real-life Relationships
During my 12 years long corporate life in India, I rarely spent any ‘ Quality Time’ with my loved ones because like most of my peers, the ‘work-life’ balance was a misnomer for me too. And attributing this ‘ lack’ to the organizations I worked with, was an easy escape from my own inability to quit or detach myself from the inevitable ‘rat-race‘, where knowing where everyone is heading to was definitely not as important as the act of running itself.
And what came as a bitter realization was the fact that, my indifference hadn’t bothered me until now when I went to India again ( this time for more than 2 months). This longish stay with no specific purpose in hand turned out to be the most fulfilling experience ever. I could spend some invaluable time with both my families, not just as a mere guest (who shows up for few days and gets treated like one), but as a real family member who is as much a part of the everyday challenges that life throws at them.
I ( along with my mum and daughter) also traveled to another city in India ( something I never did before. I always met friends only if we were in the same city or on my way to somewhere ) to be with my best friend from school. The stories, learnings, and experiences of 35 years of our lives squeezed in and exchanged over two days( the longest we have stayed together since we left school ), was very exhilarating.
I also learned some exquisite authentic local Odiya dishes from her cook( who was the only source of male energy in the house which was inhabited by us for those 48 hours:)).
Being fully alive to these relationships that define me, I realized, how mindlessly I had lived my life earlier- valuing everything ‘non-living’ with more respect, care, and love, taking the ‘living’ for granted, running behind material life and the mere means to sustain it.
These moments and memories that I have gathered, mean so much more than everything I had gained in all those years of work-life put together.
2) Devoured Spiritual Encounters
During my stay in India, the only thing that I really looked forward to was the ’10 days’, when my husband (Sandee) would be on a real leave ( not working even remotely :)). But as luck would have it, he spent those 240 odd precious hours ( cutting down on the time with his family at Kolhapur and of course us) with 100 strangers who congregated under the same roof, observing complete silence at a Vipassana center near Kolhapur.
Yeah, you read it right. He was completely out of contact ( we have been together for almost 2 decades now. And having no contact for this long, was something that felt vastly abnormal ).
Unlike the way it may sound, it certainly didn’t happen by chance but was well thought through, despite the fact that we had just a little over 24 hours to make up our minds.
When he was away, while the days seemed longer with my daughter ( Mayra )clinging on to me like never before, I ended up best utilizing my ‘me-time’ making some special connections in the spiritual world, mainly with Dr. Shefali Tsabary( besides Vishen Lakhani, Jon, and Missy Butcher and Dr. Srikumar Rao), whose videos I binged watched ( of course on Youtube, ) and switched over to reading her book – ” The Conscious Parent“, when I was ready to delve deeper into the subject that she truly owns. She is a clinical psychologist and the main focus of her work is on ‘ Conscious Parenting’ – A topic that just blew my mind. It just doesn’t apply to just parenting, but life in general.
I was forced to unlearn and relearn. I had to let go of all the wisdom about life that I had gathered in all these years of my life. Nothing made sense to me anymore.
One thing led to the other and for the first time in my life, I felt ready to let go of something( spiritual) that was very close to me, to someone in the family who I felt needed it more than I did at that moment.
The process of getting past the urge to holding onto things( though spiritual in nature) was highly liberating. And today when I look back, I feel this has kind of opened up space to attract more spiritual profundity.
I also started participating in meditative dance sessions, musical chanting circles after I came back to Leverkusen, which was quite an extraordinary experience in itself, leaving me wanting for more of it in the future.
3) Practiced Affirmations & Gratitude
What no one tells you about parenting, is that however eternal the feeling of ” we have finally arrived now” is, it never really holds true. Like never. Whenever you feel you have got it all and right, you would be up for a new surprise – a new set of unlimited challenges – which when you try to resolve with all your might, would make you look like a monster anyway in your own eyes.
With every passing day, these little bundles of energies not only push you to the edge, so that you either fall off the cliff or learn to fly, but also fill you up with immense amount of self-inflicted guilt and judgment in the process.
So what do you really do, now that you are here, and it’s happening to you?
At least a handful of days in the past couple of months turned out to be so emotionally draining for me, that I had kind of resorted to methods ( as opposed to gentle parenting) which I am quite ashamed of admitting it here when I wasn’t able to handle my daughter in a way, I would have otherwise wished to. I was completely flabbergasted by my own anger & frustration. What came on my way was my own inability to accept the reality.
What could have I possibly done, despite knowing the fact that it’s just a phase, and this too shall pass?
Practicing positive affirmations and gratitude every single day, and most importantly in the moment of distress has been a big blessing in disguise for me, not to come out of this phase, but to stay there mindfully – by acknowledging and accepting the situation as it is, instead of being in a constant state of denial.
Trying to control the environment is against the law of nature, but how we respond to the flow of life taking the path of least resistance determines how we fair in any given situation.
Affirmations and Gratitude help me stay grounded, in the moment, deeply involved in the process of becoming and happening, while staying detached from the outcome.
I also had the fortune of reading this book – ” The Magic” by Rhonda Byrne( recommended by one of my friends from college), during this phase, where she takes the reader on an incredible life-changing journey of 28 days, transforming every little negative aspect of life into joy. It’s a gift that I would love to pass on to everyone.
4) Forged New Connections
Out of the 20 months that we spent at Konstanz, even when we were not traveling I don’t really remember making connections( except a few Indian families we happened to meet at the same place we were put up) as quick and deep as I made here at Leverkusen just within the first couple of weeks after we moved in.
I had no idea, that posting on social media ( Yes, of course, there is no denying, that its a boon in many ways only if we know to use it mindfully ) groups could actually fill my life up with people who I would start loving to bits from the very moment I meet them.
I have like-minded people to connect to, in every possible aspect – whether they are Indo-German families with kids or German environmental activists – Vegans who follow sustainable living methods, love music, dance, practice reiki and are also spiritual in every way. It feels like, I have got it all. I can’t be happier than this. I feel so blessed and grateful. I come out exceptionally enriched and nourished with every brief or long meeting with my tribe here.
5) Revived Old Connections via Modish Methods
Living in different time zones and a busy life ( despite the country or city you live in )can come on your way to staying in touch with people you love because they are just so many of them. And at times like these, the digital platform can come to our rescue. Inspired by one of my friends, I started sending Whatsapp video messages to my friends. A video message that almost feels like a video call( but not in real-time )and is a monologue, feels definitely more intimate than a voice call or a chat.
Most of these conversations, left me teary-eyed because some of these people who received my messages saw me after decades and they couldn’t hold back their emotions when they replied.
And now, it has become an indelible part of my life. Every time I do this, it fills my heart with great joy and happiness of being connected to a tribe who would always be there for me, even if I haven’t spoken to them for years, because they never stopped loving me like I never did.
6) Focussed on Consistent Diet and Fitness Routine
Over 60+ days of unapologetic gluttony in India when all I did was savoring mouth-watering homemade Indian delicacies, not only took me off my Intermittent Fasting Routine, but it also tricked me into believing that no amount of physical workout could have helped the situation in hand – I let my body put all those extra pounds back on.
Once I was back in Germany, the single-digit temperatures coupled with strong winds and rains just strengthened my belief.
But then there comes a day when I want to kill myself, for being so casual about the most important part of life – body, and mind. While I continuously worked on mindfulness, I completely ignored my body.
What seemed to be my everlasting challenge was – Consistency – with my fitness routine. Fasting for 16 hours a day has always been easier than extracting just 30 min for a workout. So, while I did lose the extra pounds, I wasn’t getting fitter.
What really came to my rescue was a training plan for ‘absolute beginner runners’ from runningtrainingplan.com. I now no longer give excuses and wait for the perfect condition to hit the road.
7) Focussed on Water and Sleep Routine
It’s important that we look at our body, mind, and soul as a whole and nourish each part separately with the right intention and focus. So just having a fitness and diet routine isn’t enough. Yes, its a no brainer, that we need to drink enough water and get sufficient rest, but do we follow it diligently. At least I never did, until now.
My mornings start usually with journaling, practicing positive affirmations and gratitude and writing ( Morning Pages ). I stay away from the mobile unless I really need to, for at least the first 2 hours.
I have never been a morning person all my life, and that also explains my nocturnal behavior at night. But I challenge myself to sleep early by 10 pm and let my body wake up on its own ( to beat the sleep-inertia) without an alarm when it has fully rested( at this point I ain’t sure if this regime would fructify in the longer run, because I would want to wake up even earlier than I do now, as, at my age, I just need 7 hours of sleep, and some days I have been sleeping for more than 8 hours. Lol)
8) Stayed in Perpetual Connection with Nature
In the last 2 months visiting the Ophovener Weiher( a little pond near my house at Leverkusen) almost every single day, and at times twice daily, the theory of impermanence has started to make more sense to me than ever.
The landscape never looks the same. Everything is constantly changing every moment at an indecipherable pace. This is something I have experienced for the very first time.
Immersing myself completely in taking longish walks for nature observation either alone or with someone has opened up my senses to these processes of life in a way that’s just incredible.
Being struck by a magnificent sunset, or a sunrise from the comfort of home ( I can see both every day from my house. And I can’t express, how grateful I am for witnessing these beauties) or outside, catching the glimpse of the ducks and at time turtles in their natural state, listening to the chirping of birds on my way back home at dusk, and documenting my experiences in my journal or in photographs/videos is something I can do forever and never get bored of.
I would also want to soon make a nature journal too, to make this process deeper and more profound.
9) Held on to the Minimalist Lifestyle and More
Staying off the digital world also gives us, our precious hours back undeniably, which we can choose to spend mindfully or mindlessly – because honestly, the consumerist culture ( it emphasizes that having a good life is made up of consuming, achieving and being seen and liked) never ceases to feed into our idea of ‘ Time Well Spent’.
It would have been rather easy to fill up our new house here at Leverkusen, with everything that we need( or not), because we may stay here longer, also using the time off the grid justifiably so, in browsing through the shops for hours in malls, instead of browsing through the phone.
However, we have just not been able to. Malls scare us, and things make us uncomfortable.
So, we have stuck to our minimalist lifestyle against no odds 🙂 – we have the bare minimum – bare rooms, spaces, and walls. And we intend to keep it this way forever and always. Because this feeling of ‘feeling lighter’ in a settled environment, absolutely clutter-free, is very precious.
Also becoming conscious of the perils of the throwaway culture- that encourages fast fashion, leading to dehumanizing of the workers, and degradation of the environment, we are trying to use everything that we already have till its no longer usable.
I recently saw one of my denim becoming threadbare with repeat wear, making me secretly rejoice, instead of being unhappy.
10) Continued to Read, Write, and Journal
These 3 activities in isolation or in combination have become my go-to place, where I seek refuge, find my comfort and gather back the strewn pieces of my life – when I experience a sea of emotions trying to be present in the moment in the real world, instead of losing myself into the delusional virtual world.
I wouldn’t have published anything in this period, but I never stopped writing, and most importantly journaling. Baring it all like no one is watching, capturing all emotions and thoughts in its purest form( even the ugliest ones) thereby confronting myself in the most difficult of situations too, gifted me with a new perspective.
I felt more at ease with my authentic self. I gained the capability of analyzing a situation from a space of neutrality instead of judgment.
If you had asked me a year back, I would have said I would prefer to watch a movie over reading a book because that would be faster, and knowing the story was more important for me than the act of telling it.
But today, books have become my sacred place. I have read 23 odd books in 2019 and 46 in my entire life. And it would only make me happier if I can read as many books in less than half of the year 2020. Having said that, it is not the count that matters, but the world that they transport me to, I never want to return from, and would, therefore, want to experience it now more than ever.
11) Tried to be intentional with my time
Being intentional with time also means practicing the art of doing nothing at all( We often look down upon passivity and often mistake it as laziness – this is the main principle of TAO – to just go with the flow of the river of life), because the truth is we aren’t doing anything anyway, in the larger scheme of things of the universe. We are actually being done.
Having said that, it doesn’t mean that we can’t or should not plan. The key here is to stay detached from the outcome and accept the situation as it is despite the deviation.
Scheduling my days in advance helps me to have a better grip on time. It allows me to eliminate wastage by thinking too much rather than doing. I do all of the above things every day intentionally leaving no room ( no extra time) to get lost or mired in the world of virtual realism ( unless it really creates harmony with my lifestyle).
To stay committed and focused on the way you want to utilize your time, you need to learn to say an occasional ‘No’ to a variety of things, more than a few times, thereby saying ‘Yes’ to a plethora of new experiences and learnings. For example – I have started investing some serious hours in learning German now. I try out one new vegan recipe every week or two. I also spend a few hours a month on vegan street activism.
You would need to prioritize and choose at every step. And I would say that’s an incredible sort of privilege, right?
So, that’s quite a lot, isn’t it? It may sound like, I never did any of it otherwise. And you know what, I really didn’t or couldn’t, though I always wanted to. But as you would have experienced it yourself, any kind of addiction, especially to social media or the internet can really be life-threatening – because it would forbid you from living life the way it should be – losing yourself completely – becoming dead inside, while you are still alive. If you have experienced how life can truly be wonderful outside of your mobile phone, trust me, it would be harder to choose that life over this one. Give it a shot.
So, now that this phase has left me quite enthralled, all I can say in gratitude is -” Thank you for stopping by.”
Though I have been warming up to get back to blogging and Instagramming for the last couple of weeks, I yet don’t have that killing urge to be omnipresent( in the context of social media :)).
This period has put an everlasting dent on the way I consumed social media for making myself visible. And I have come out wiser I would say :).
The entire process of becoming a Digital Minimalist ( in terms of Social Media consumption ) was nothing less than an Epiphany in itself. And I did experience ” JOMO” in its truest form.
Long story short – It’s these finite number of hours we have got every day, our so-called ” Me time “(after we have fulfilled all our worldly duties )which is way too critical, to just while it away doing something like ” Just Browsing” where minutes, become hours, leaving us completely disillusioned – making us feel less in control of our own situations in life.
Isn’t that a pity?
I refuse to go back to that life again. Though, I never felt I was addicted to the Internet or Social Media, however, avoiding it completely, has made opened up space to things which are more profound in nature and are helping me to live my life more meaningfully.
So, the choice is truly ours. I have made mine. What about you?
Would you choose to scroll through your device or scroll through your immediate surroundings( both internal and external ), during your ” Me-Time”?
Do you think staying off the grid would lead you to FOMO ( Fear Of Missing Out ) or JOMO ( Joy of Missing Out )?
I can’t wait to hear back from you on this one.
Thank you for stopping by and reading through this post. It would be really wonderful if you share a word about what you feel about the above post. Would love to hear back from you.
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